28 Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. He did not do what was pleasing in the sight of the Lord, as his ancestor David had done.2 Instead, he followed the example of the kings of Israel. He cast metal images for the worship of Baal.3 He offered sacrifices in the valley of Ben-Hinnom, even sacrificing his own sons in the fire.[a] In this way, he followed the detestable practices of the pagan nations the Lord had driven from the land ahead of the Israelites.4 He offered sacrifices and burned incense at the pagan shrines and on the hills and under every green tree.
5 Because of all this, the Lord his God allowed the king of Aram to defeat Ahaz and to exile large numbers of his people to Damascus. The armies of the king of Israel also defeated Ahaz and inflicted many casualties on his army.6 In a single day Pekah son of Remaliah, Israel’s king, killed 120,000 of Judah’s troops, all of them experienced warriors, because they had abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors.7 Then Zicri, a warrior from Ephraim, killed Maaseiah, the king’s son; Azrikam, the king’s palace commander; and Elkanah, the king’s second-in-command.8 The armies of Israel captured 200,000 women and children from Judah and seized tremendous amounts of plunder, which they took back to Samaria.
9 But a prophet of the Lord named Oded was there in Samaria when the army of Israel returned home. He went out to meet them and said, “The Lord, the God of your ancestors, was angry with Judah and let you defeat them. But you have gone too far, killing them without mercy, and all heaven is disturbed.10 And now you are planning to make slaves of these people from Judah and Jerusalem. What about your own sins against the Lord your God?11 Listen to me and return these prisoners you have taken, for they are your own relatives. Watch out, because now the Lord’s fierce anger has been turned against you!”
12 Then some of the leaders of Israel[b]—Azariah son of Jehohanan, Berekiah son of Meshillemoth, Jehizkiah son of Shallum, and Amasa son of Hadlai—agreed with this and confronted the men returning from battle.13 “You must not bring the prisoners here!” they declared. “We cannot afford to add to our sins and guilt. Our guilt is already great, and the Lord’s fierce anger is already turned against Israel.”
14 So the warriors released the prisoners and handed over the plunder in the sight of the leaders and all the people.15 Then the four men just mentioned by name came forward and distributed clothes from the plunder to the prisoners who were naked. They provided clothing and sandals to wear, gave them enough food and drink, and dressed their wounds with olive oil. They put those who were weak on donkeys and took all the prisoners back to their own people in Jericho, the city of palms. Then they returned to Samaria.
28:3Or even making his sons pass through the fire.
28:12Hebrew Ephraim, referring to the northern kingdom of Israel.
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